It’s hard to imagine anything good coming from getting hit in the face with a baseball bat.
I’m sure high school sophomore, James Clear, wasn’t thinking, “Oh goody – this is going to result in a best-selling book,” when he was being life-flighted to the hospital.
In his compelling book, Atomic Habits, James tells the story of how this accident, which caused brain swelling and multiple facial fractures, ultimately led to his writing this book on habits.
After his injury, Clear wanted to return to baseball, but he mostly sat on the bench in high school. However, he was able to earn a spot on the team his freshman year at Denison college, albeit at the bottom of the roster.
This is when he decided if he was going to have any chance of starting on the team, he was going to have to change his habits.
He started doing the opposite of a lot of his peers. He went to bed early, kept his room neat and tidy, improved his study habits and created a weightlifting program.
These new habits started giving him a greater sense of control over his life and more confidence.
Long story short, six years after being hit in the face with a baseball bat, he was selected as top male athlete at Denison and named to the ESPN Academic All-American Team. He was also awarded the President’s Medal.
Even more than these accomplishments, what caught my attention is what Clear writes after recounting his accolades,
“I hope you’ll forgive me if [I sound boastful]. To be honest, there was nothing legendary or historic about my athletic career. I never ended up playing professionally. However, looking back on those years, I believe I accomplished something just as rare:
I fulfilled my potential. And I believe the concepts in this book can help you fulfill your potential as well.”
This is so key.
There is not much else that burns like the regret of not fulfilling our potential. We may be very accomplished, but there can still be an area of our life where we aren’t manifesting our potential, such as:
- Our potential to truly enjoy our work and make an impact
- Our potential to create something new and be an entrepreneur
- Our potential to be in a loving relationship that really works
- Our potential to be financially independent, or
- Or our potential to be our best self.
We may have the goal of fulfilling our potential, but despite our best efforts, our goal remains out of reach.
In his book, Clear tells us that we do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems. In Atomic Habits, we learn how to create a system with habits that becomes the foundation of making changes that move the needle.
Clear states, “Habits are the compounded interest of change.”
I love this! It’s such a powerful statement.
He also encourages his readers to be patient and work on getting 1% better every day.
We don’t have to change overnight. Nor should we try.
One of the most powerful concepts, in my opinion, is this idea of identity-based habits.
Clear writes, “Many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve. This leads to outcome-based habits (such as losing 10 pounds). The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, we start by focusing on who we wish to become (such as a healthy, fit person).”
One of the many reasons I like this approach is that when we’re trying to make changes, such as find a better job or have a more fulfilling career, we don’t have to wait for the what (outcome) to start seeing positive changes. If we focus on who we need to be in order to have a better job, career, or relationship, we can start to reap the benefits now.
We start to reap the benefits now by the small changes we make that help us move towards our goals.
When we commit to a constructive habit, no matter how small, our confidence and self-respect increase. We start becoming that version of ourselves capable of reaching an out-of-reach goal.
I could go on and on about this book, but have a look for yourself if you’re wanting a better system and habits for reaching your goals.
I’d love to hear what kind of habits and systems you adopt and what starts working for you!
Be back soon,